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What can I Expect After a Vaginal Hysterectomy?

By M. DePietro
Updated May 17, 2024
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A hysterectomy is a surgical procedure to remove the uterus. It may be needed to treat excessive bleeding, fibroids, chronic pain or certain gynecological cancers. The uterus can be removed either through an abdominal incision or through the vagina. A vaginal hysterectomy has many benefits over an abdominal procedure. After a vaginal hysterectomy there is often less bleeding, a shorter hospital stay and a quicker recovery.

The procedure may be preformed with either general anesthesia or with only an epidural, which prevents the woman from feeling pain below her waist. The surgeon will make an incision inside the vagina in order to get to the uterus. The uterus is then cut and removed through the vagina. Internal, dissolving stitches are placed to prevent excess bleeding.

After a vaginal hysterectomy, a women will most likely have some bleeding and pain. Pain medication will likely be prescribed. Most doctors also prescribe antibiotics to prevent an infection from developing. Women who have an uncomplicated vaginal hysterectomy are able to leave the hospital after a few days.

Most women will be given instructions to follow after the hysterectomy, such as no heavy lifting for about six weeks. Women are usually instructed to refrain from sexual intercourse for six weeks also. Information will be given to watch for signs of an infection, such as intense pain, excessive bleeding, fever or vomiting. Most women will be able to return to work within about two to three weeks, depending on their occupation. However, it’s essential to get a doctor's approval before resuming regular activities.

Because the uterus has been removed, a women will no longer have monthly menstrual bleeding. Women who have also had their ovaries removed during the procedure will not produce estrogen as they did previously. This will likely cause menopausal symptoms including hot flashes, mood changes and weight gain. For those who only had their uterus removed, hormonal changes don’t usually occur until menopause starts.

Although all women may react differently, in addition to physical changes, some women may have emotional changes after a vaginal hysterectomy. Depending on the reason for the hysterectomy and the age of the woman, various emotions may be present. Some women may feel a sense of loss at their inability to give birth to a child. Other women may feel better than ever, especially if they had pain and excessive bleeding, which is relieved by the procedure.

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Discussion Comments
By anon347299 — On Sep 05, 2013

I had a vaginal hysterectomy in late august 2013. That was the best decision I have ever made.

I had female issues for almost 18 years and no doctor could ever figure out why or even how to treat me. I had severe bleeding, pain and huge clots when I did get my periods. I finally found one doctor (after three emergency trips to the hospital within days of each other) he found that I had several fibroids growing on my endometrial lining and my uterus had to come out.

The doctor was able to save both my ovaries and my tubes. I was in a little bit of pain after the surgery, but once I had the catheter removed and was able to get up and walk around, I felt great. I had minimal (not enough to fill a panty liner) bleeding that stopped two days after surgery.

Here I am, six days into my recovery and I feel like a million bucks and I stopped taking my pain pills two days ago. I see my doctor tomorrow.

The best advice that I can give for any women who is scheduled for a hysterectomy and/or is post-op, is listen to your body. You know yourself better than anyone. Rest when you can, and do not push yourself to get better faster. It never works.

By SweetCali — On Dec 28, 2012

I had a vaginal hysterectomy three weeks ago and feel great! My reason was fibroids. I had a lot of bleeding and fatigue off and on for about six years, and with the fibroids growing and shrinking, growing and shrinking, I finally got fed up and just had the surgery.

I'm in my early 40's and heard from a few women in their 50's to get it over with, now! I started walking immediately, slowly working up from 10 minutes to about a 1/2 hour. The better shape you were in prior to surgery, the easier you will bounce back. I'm not a gym rat but an avid walker and I practice Yoga every morning. I'm hoping my iron levels get back to normal soon. Listen to your body and don't wait as long as I did. Good luck!

By anon305896 — On Nov 28, 2012

I had vaginal hysterectomy three weeks ago today. I didn't expect to heal overnight, but I was hoping to feel back to normal after two weeks. But there is a reason we get signed off work for four weeks to start with.

Get as much rest as possible, lying down for the first few days, and watch a film you love; that way, you are more likely to stay there. Sitting can be uncomfortable. Take the painkillers. I tried to only take them when necessary, but I don't think that was a good idea.

You will have a lot of pain when trying for a poo, but don't take laxatives. I ate liquorice because that softens it. Today was the first time it hasn't really hurt to go.

Some days you will have loads of energy, but try not to overdo it or you'll end up sore and the discharge gets heavier if you overdo things. I hope this helps and good luck.

By anon272330 — On May 31, 2012

I had my vaginal hysterectomy about a year ago. I stayed in the hospital three days, took all my pain meds (percocet and ibuprofen), laid low per instructions (no heavy lifting, yard/house work, etc). I definitely wanted to wait to have sex, but I was so aroused at week three, we tried and it felt like my vagina was comprised of broken glass. We stopped immediately and decided the doc knew what she was talking about.

Sex is as fabulous as it ever was, and best of all I don't bleed! Shopping afterwards for new underthings was wonderful. I found out later that I had precancerous cells in my uterus so I am doubly thankful I had this surgery. I have mild hot flashes (still have ovaries) so far, but life is so much better post-op.

By anon257177 — On Mar 25, 2012

I'm concerned and having the worst post-op ever. I started bleeding day six post op. Everyone keeps saying it's nothing, but the amounts of blood loss are frightening. I think I may have popped a stitch or something. Have any of you experienced this?

By anon241148 — On Jan 17, 2012

I went through a vaginal hysterectomy in December, and had a post op where my doctor discussed with me what was done and she asked me about the pain, checked my vitals and said she would see me in another four weeks. I told her about some pains I was still having, and she prescribed some painkillers, since I am unable to take NSAIDs, or ibuprofen. Some days, the pains in my groin are harsh and others it's OK. I have no fevers, no odd smelling anything. Just some pains. I am uncomfortable about talking with my doctor at another appointment in two weeks. I just want to know if that's normal?

By ellafarris — On Jun 26, 2011

@Sierra02 - I was scared out of my wits before my surgery, but to be honest with you it really wasn't that bad. The vaginal bleeding after my hysterectomy tapered off within six days.

The most important thing to remember is to take your medication as prescribed and get lots of rest. Don't overdue it even when you feel up to it because you will need at least four to six weeks to completely recover.

It was helpful to me to ward off the nagging list of household chores by cleaning my home top to bottom before my surgery. I also loaded up on groceries since I knew I wasn't going to be able to drive for awhile or lift much of anything.

Another thing that helped me out was placing an extra table next to my bed so everything I needed was within reach. I put on it things like, my cell phone, tissues, chap stick, remote control, books, magazines, etc.

Also make sure you have plenty of pads on hand and an ice pack to help ease the pain. That's all I can think of right now. Good luck on your surgery and I wish you a successful and speedy recovery.

By goldensky — On Jun 26, 2011

@Sierra02 - The information they provide you with from the doctors office only briefly explains what to expect after a vaginal hysterectomy. Just as each woman is uniquely different so too will be her recovery.

I didn't experience much pain after my vaginal hysterectomy at all, but I did do as the doctor ordered and made sure I got plenty of rest. I didn't return to work until three weeks later. I've heard some women go back to work five or six weeks recovery time and others have gone back after only one week.

By Sierra02 — On Jun 23, 2011

I'm scheduled for a vaginal hysterectomy next month and I'd like to know if any of you have any postoperative tips or advise you could share with me.

I'd been experiencing severe abdominal pain and extreme fatigue for several months before I discussed my symptoms with my doctor.

He found a cluster of cysts that had grown around one of my ovaries and was spreading to the uterine wall. After careful consideration of my options, I finally decided that a vaginal hysterectomy procedure is the right choice for me.

My doctor gave me a post-op and of course a preoperative checklist but I'd really like to hear from women who have experienced this personally. Your tips and suggestions are greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.

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